9 facts that nobody told you about London

Big Ben

From Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament to Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square, London has some of the world’s most famous landmarks.

But considering you hear so much about these places, you might wonder about some of London’s less-publicised anomalies. We’ve picked out our favourites here…

Britain’s smallest police station

This dinky booth on the south-east corner of Trafalgar Square was built in 1926 to keep tabs on protests happening in Trafalgar Square.

Considering it is little more than a hollowed-out lamp post, it has enough space to detain two prisoners, but its main purpose was to act as a base for a single police officer, who apparently had a direct line to Scotland Yard.

In an age where we have CCTV, social media and round-the-clock news coverage, it has become redundant and was closed down a few years ago. However, it is still used today as a broom cupboard for Westminster Council cleaners and remains a quirky landmark to seek out if you’re near Trafalgar Square.

Some buildings have noses

Eagle-eyed tourists might not believe what they’re seeing when they spot noses protruding from various buildings around London.

It’s part of a quirky installation from artist Rick Buckley, who attached 35 casts of his nose to buildings such as the National Gallery and Tate Britain. Alas, only ten remain in place today.

If you’re keen to see one, head to Admiralty Arch or Dean Street (outside the Quo Vadis restaurant).

On a similar note, there are ears too, two of which can be found on Floral Street in Covent Garden and it is said that more are scattered around the city.

Cockney bank machines

You’ll be used to seeing other language options when dealing with cash machines. Well in London, a small number of ATMs – provided by Bank Machine – allow the option of withdrawing your cash in ‘cockney’ too.

10 Downing Street has a doppelganger

As home to the serving UK Prime Minister, number 10 Downing Street is a house like no other, but number 10 Adam Street in the Strand is eerily reminiscent; so much so that tourists often prank their pals by grabbing a cheeky snap in front of its gloss black front door.

Hyde Park’s hidden pet cemetery

You’ll know all about Hyde Park – which is a stone’s throw away from the Grand Royale London Hyde Park Hotel – but you probably didn’t know about its Victorian Pet Cemetery located in the north-west corner of the park by the Victoria Gate Lodge.

Tombstones in cemetery at dusk
It is closed to the public but you can read some of the messages etched into the mini tombstones like ‘Darling Dolly – my sunbeam, my consolation, my joy’.

The bridge that rolls up into a ball

The Rolling Bridge at Paddington Basin – right near the Park Grand London Hyde Park Hotel – is perhaps the weirdest bridge in the world. In the day, it serves a function like any other bridge, allowing passage from one side of the water to another.

However, at 12 noon every Friday, it rolls up into itself to form an octagonal shape. So yeah, don’t try to use it then. You’ll find it on South Wharf Road, near City of Westminster College and St Mary’s Hospital.

A beer garden with a view

From the London Eye to the Shard, there are many great vantage points you could choose to obtain a bird’s eye view of London and the Queen Elizabeth Roof Garden Bar & Cafe (South Bank Centre, Belvedere Rd, Lambeth, SE1 8XX, Tube: Waterloo) is certainly one worth knowing about. The views are magnificent on pretty much any day but it’s especially memorable during a clear day’s sunset.

Big Ben isn’t what you think it is

When many people talk about Big Ben, they’re usually referring to the clock tower – an instantly recognisably London landmark. However, Big Ben is actually the great bell inside. A great fact for those who enjoy being pedantic.

Big Ben
UK residents can also climb the tower to see the bell itself and see it chime on the hour. Get in touch with your local MP to arrange a visit.

Stranded Strand Station

Very few people set foot in London without making use of the Underground at some point and you’d think with 1.34 billion passengers every year, that every Tube station would be buzzing; not Strand though.

Also known as Aldwych Station, it was closed permanently in 1994 after it emerged that the cost of replacing its 84-year-old lifts would be too high to justify the low number of passengers that actually used the station (around 450 a day).

Since then, Strand’s tunnels have been used as shooting locations for films such as V for Vendetta, Atonement, 28 Weeks Later, BBC’s Sherlock and perhaps most famously, The Prodigy’s Firestarter music video.

Guided tours are occasionally arranged if you’re keen to explore this abandoned hub.